What I think about Guantanamo
I think President Obama has been thrown off-stride by the Karl-Rove-orchestrated assault on his perceived strengths (a very Clausewitzian and typical Rove strategy if you follow him).
With Guantanamo Obama had hoped to solve the issue by attrition and by devaluing the issue to the point where he could wrap it up with spending little or no political capital.
But now the issue is forced by the hunger strike, now in its official 100th day.
I think he must spend capital on this and if he does he will be rewarded.
The legal basis for holding these guys without charge or trial is that they are taken under the Hague and Geneva conventions in a war zone.
This runs into problems right off the bat because you are not supposed to exfiltrate prisoners of war or interned civilians from whatever country they were captured in except to return them to their country of origin.
For the same reason, the idea of returning these folks to some third country should be a non-starter.
Here is what is should be done.
Continue to hold military tribunals, but only for the purpose of status determination: prisoner of war or interned civilian.
Those who were captured under arms, had a command structure, some kind of uniform, may be found to be prisoners of war. The remainder of these folks will be found to be interned civilians.
Prisoners of war cannot be charged for fighting the enemy so long as they themselves obeyed the laws of war. The UN has also recognized the right of civilian people under arms to fight for national liberation, but that is not as well-ensconced in international law as is the rights and responsibilities of nation-states.
Civilians can be charged with criminal offenses, but they should be tried in theatre by local judges under local law (which can't be done since they have been illegally exfiltrated out of theatre) or else in their country of origin or by an international tribunal. The military commissions cannot be allowed to act as judge, jury and executioner. When military tribunals have been allowed to exceed their proper scope in the past, such as during the Civil War, the result has not been pretty.
As soon as is practicable, these men must be returned to their countries of origin, whether or not their tribunal proceedings are closed or complete.
Our intelligence should keep tabs on these guys in an open manner but otherwise let them lead their lives as best they can. It is very much in everyone’s best interest to help these folks with compensation for time during which they were improperly held or mistreated, and they all should be given enough to live and to receive medical and psychological assistance on an ongoing basis.
We are going to pay a price for letting these guys go. Here's 166 guys who are going to be very messed up and not feeling like Uncle Sam is their friend. That is the price we will pay for kidnapping, assassination, rape, torture, war crimes, running concentration camps, and 10 years of low-intensity conflict, which is what we call terrorism when we do it.
But you have to consider there’s already a lot more than 166 guys out in the world who don’t like the US.
By bringing this very real scandal front and center and highly publicizing the commissions and the procedures to return the prisoners of war and interned civilians, the ginned-up Rove scandaloids will be driven off the TV and front pages perhaps indefinitely.
What’s the reward? The issue is so corrosive of the moral authority and therefore of the power of the United States. Quite simply, it makes the US the bad guys and that’s not good. Time to end a bad situation which only festers as time goes on.
Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy
Bioshock Infinite is a visual feast but the gameplay is eh. More specifically, the gameplay is basically Doom with visually splendid 1910 garb and steampunk weapons and technology. I find myself enjoying exploring and solving such puzzles as there are and not enjoying the tedious gunbattles. The premise for the game is promising, a self-proclaimed prophet builds a modern-day Noah’s Arc, a floating city in the sky like Swift’s Laputa, and secedes from the United States. Now Columbia is a rogue nation state going whither it will after being disowned by the United States following a massacre of Chinese civilians by the flying city in putting down the Boxer Rebellion in 1903.
The city is a creepy homage to everything evil in the idea of American Exceptionalism, from the murderous Motorized Patriot, an animatronic-like machine-gun wielding George Washington robot, to the public stoning of an interracial couple with baseballs. Where the game excels is in the art direction and the overall verisimilitude of the construction of the world. Where it fails, in my opinion, is in the introduction of what are essentially spells, the vigors. It breaks the monotony of the pistol-shotgun-machinegun tedium but so stretches the suspension of disbelief. Even moreso the gate-opening ability of companion Elizabeth, which strains credulity. If she can open a gate to Paris at will, why and how is she locked in a floating tower.
But no matter, as interactive fiction, with lots of shooting and gore, the game succeeds brilliantly. And it is worth playing just for the visual awesomeness.
Bioshock is a visual treat, a turn of the century romance and a somewhat garbled science fiction epic layered onto a rich tapestry of religion, corruption, slavery and sin. Worth a look, if not sixty dollars.
Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy
From 1969 to 2013, the Internet has gone from this:
I’m going to talk about some of the people who I think were important in setting the shape of things to come. My criteria isn’t really who is most worthy but rather, who did really important things, is interesting, and some early figures have a local Boston connection as you will see.
Tufts BS and MS dual-degree 1913
PhD Engineering 1917 jointly from Harvard and MIT
Worked at Tufts till 1919
American Radio and Research Corporation (AMRAD) at Tufts continuing
1922 founded the American Appliance Company in Cambridge, which became Raytheon
1927 differential analyzer, an analog computer that could solve first order differential equations of up to 18 variables
MIT Prof from 1919
VP and Dean of Engineering at MIT from 1932
One of his students was Claude Shannon, who went on to write “The Mathematical Theory of Communication” an important foundational work in information theory
Headed National Research Defense Council 1938 (later Office of Scientific Research and Development). As such he initiated the Manhatten Project which developed the first atmoic bombs.
1938 appointed vice-chair to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics which he soon ended up chairing. This was the forerunner of NASA.
Declined to fund Norburt Weiner’s digital computer project, but the Army did. This became ENIAC, one of the first all-purpose general programmable digital computers.
Later instrumental in setting up the National Science Foundation.
As We May Think:
“The camera hound of the future wears on his forehead a lump a little larger than a walnut. It takes pictures 3 millimeters square, later to be projected or enlarged, which after all involves only a factor of 10 beyond present practice…
The Encyclopoedia Britannica could be reduced to the volume of a matchbox. A library of a million volumes could be compressed into one end of a desk. If the human race has produced since the invention of movable type a total record, in the form of magazines, newspapers, books, tracts, advertising blurbs, correspondence, having a volume corresponding to a billion books, the whole affair, assembled and compressed, could be lugged off in a moving van. Mere compression, of course, is not enough; one needs not only to make and store a record but also to be able to consult it, and this aspect of the matter comes later. Even the modern great library is not generally consulted; it is nibbled by a few…
All this is conventional, except for the projection forward of present-day mechanisms and gadgetry. It affords an immediate step, however, to associative indexing, the basic idea of which is a provision whereby any item may be caused at will to select immediately and automatically another. This is the essential feature of the memex. The process of tying two items together is the important thing…
Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready-made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified. The lawyer has at his touch the associated opinions and decisions of his whole experience, and of the experience of friends and authorities. The patent attorney has on call the millions of issued patents, with familiar trails to every point of his client’s interest. The physician, puzzled by its patient’s reactions, strikes the trail established in studying an earlier similar case, and runs rapidly through analogous case histories, with side references to the classics for the pertinent anatomy and histology. The chemist, struggling with the synthesis of an organic compound, has all the chemical literature before him in his laboratory, with trails following the analogies of compounds, and side trails to their physical and chemical behavior…
The historian, with a vast chronological account of a people, parallels it with a skip trail which stops only at the salient items, and can follow at any time contemporary trails which lead him all over civilization at a particular epoch. There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record. The inheritance from the master becomes, not only his additions to the world’s record, but for his disciples the entire scaffolding by which they were erected…
The impulses which flow in the arm nerves of a typist convey to her fingers the translated information which reaches her eye or ear, in order that the fingers may be caused to strike the proper keys. Might not these currents be intercepted, either in the original form in which information is conveyed to the brain, or in the marvelously metamorphosed form in which they then proceed to the hand?
In the outside world, all forms of intelligence, whether of sound or sight, have been reduced to the form of varying currents in an electric circuit in order that they may be transmitted. Inside the human frame exactly the same sort of process occurs. Must we always transform to mechanical movements in order to proceed from one electrical phenomenon to another? It is a suggestive thought, but it hardly warrants prediction without losing touch with reality and immediateness…”
Atlantic Monthly, July 1945
Student of Vannevar Bush at MIT
Proved that Boolean algebra can resolve any logical or mathematical syllogism or operation — thus logic and mathematics can be reduced to zeros and ones
Mathematical Theory of Communication — uniting information theory and thermodynamics
Co-invented first wearable computer
Probability theory used in information theory
Human in the loop–feedback
ENIAC — Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer –1946
Memos to the Intergalactic Computer Network
“In the foregoing, I must have exercised several network features. I engaged in information retrieval through some kind of system that looked for programs to meet certain requirements I had in mind. Presumably, this was a system based upon descriptors, or reasonable facsimiles thereof, and not in the near future, upon computer appreciation of natural language. However, it would be pleasant to use some of the capabilities of avant-garde linguistics. In using the borrowed programs, I effected some linkages between my programs and the borrowed ones. Hopefully, I did this without much effort–hopefully, the linkages were set up–or the basis for making them was set up–when the programs were brought into the part of the stytem [sic.] that I was using. I did not borrow any data, but that was only because I was working on experimental data of my own. If I had been trying to test some kind of a theory, I would have wanted to borrow data as well as programs.
When the computer operated the programs for me, I suppose that the activity took place in the computer at SDC, which is where we have been assuming I was. However, I would just as soon leave that on the level of inference. With a sophisticated network-control system, I would not decide whether to send the data and have them worked on by programs somewhere else, or bring in programs and have them work on my data. I have no great objection to making that decision, for a while at any rate, but, in principle, it seems better for the computer, or the network, somehow, to do that. At the end of my work, I filed some things away, and tried to do it in such a way that they would be useful to others. That called into play, presumably, some kind of a convention-monitoring system that, in its early stages, must almost surely involve a human criterian as well as maching [sic.] processing.”
Project MAC Director, 1968-71
Project on Mathematics and Computation — now (more or less) CSAIL at MIT
Developed MULTICS — Multiplexed Information and Computing Service 1965-2000
MULTICS was important for:
No distinction between files and process memory — similar to tmpfs
Online hardware reconfiguration
Hierarchical file system
Brian Kernighan (Project MAC, then Bell Labs) and Dennis Ritchie (Harvard, Bell Labs) wrote C
Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie from Project Mac went on to write UNIX 1969-1973
Bill Joy and others backported everything in UNIX to make BSD 1973-1994
Andrew Tannebaum wrote MINIX 1987, which Linus Torvalds turned into Linux 1991
started by two MIT professors and a student
originally specializing in acoustics
did defense work for submarine detection
Licklider became a star at ARPA
his vision for the Intergalactic Computer Network became the basis for the ARPAnet
First IMPs, ancestors of routers
First autonomous system of the ARPA internet, AS1 (now owned by Level 3 Communications)
“The earliest ideas for a computer network intended to allow general communications among computer users were formulated by computer scientist J. C. R. Licklider of Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN), in April 1963, in memoranda discussing his concept for an “Intergalactic Computer Network”. Those ideas contained almost everything that composes the contemporary Internet. In October 1963, Licklider was appointed head of the Behavioral Sciences and Command and Control programs at the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — ARPA (the initial ARPANET acronym). He then convinced Ivan Sutherland and Bob Taylor that this computer network concept was very important and merited development, although Licklider left ARPA before any contracts were let that worked on this concept.
Ivan Sutherland and Bob Taylor continued their interest in creating such a computer communications network, in part, to allow ARPA-sponsored researchers at various corporate and academic locales to put to use the computers ARPA was providing them, and, in part, to make new software and other computer science results quickly and widely available. In his office, Taylor had three computer terminals, each connected to separate computers, which ARPA was funding: the first, for the System Development Corporation (SDC) Q-32, in Santa Monica; the second, for Project Genie, at the University of California, Berkeley; and the third, for Multics, at MIT. Taylor recalls the circumstance: “For each of these three terminals, I had three different sets of user commands. So, if I was talking online with someone at S.D.C., and I wanted to talk to someone I knew at Berkeley, or M.I.T., about this, I had to get up from the S.D.C. terminal, go over and log into the other terminal and get in touch with them. I said, “Oh Man!”, it’s obvious what to do: If you have these three terminals, there ought to be one terminal that goes anywhere you want to go. That idea is the ARPANET”. Somewhat contemporaneously, several other people had (mostly independently) worked out the aspects of “packet switching”, with the first public demonstration presented by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), on 5 August 1968, in the United Kingdom.“
“The initial ARPANET consisted of four IMPs:
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where Leonard Kleinrock had established a Network Measurement Center, with an SDS Sigma 7 being the first computer attached to it;
The Stanford Research Institute’s Augmentation Research Center, where Douglas Engelbart had created the ground-breaking NLS system, a very important early hypertext system (with the SDS 940 that ran NLS, named “Genie”, being the first host attached);
University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), with the Culler-Fried Interactive Mathematics Center’s IBM 360/75, running OS/MVT being the machine attached;
The University of Utah’s Computer Science Department, where Ivan Sutherland had moved, running a DEC PDP-10 operating on TENEX.
The first message on the ARPANET was sent by UCLA student programmer Charley Kline, at 10:30 pm on 29 October 1969, from Boelter Hall 3420. Kline transmitted from the university’s SDS Sigma 7 Host computer to the Stanford Research Institute’s SDS 940 Host computer. The message text was the word login; the l and the o letters were transmitted, but the system then crashed. Hence, the literal first message over the ARPANET was lo. About an hour later, having recovered from the crash, the SDS Sigma 7 computer effected a full login. The first permanent ARPANET link was established on 21 November 1969, between the IMP at UCLA and the IMP at the Stanford Research Institute. By 5 December 1969, the entire four-node network was established.“
1971 Ray Tomlinson of BBN sent the first internetwork email — invention of the use of the @ sign for email addresses
MIT BS, MS, PhD 1963
1966 program manager in the ARPA Information Processing Techniques Office
Bob Taylor -> Viet Nam 1969, Roberts became director of IPTO
MA, PhD Princeton 1962/64
Bell Labs then asst prof MIT
BBN develop first IMP
1972 demostrate ARPANET by connecting 20 computers
Developed NCP and TCP/IP with others such as Vint Cerf
left DARPA 1986
1992 with Cerf helped to found Internet Society
1947 started at NPL
Working with Alan Turing who was designing the Atomatic Computing Engine
Invented term packet-switching
ACE, the Automatic Computing Engine 1950
Mark I, the first packet-switched network, 1970
First modern packet-switched terrestrial network (aside from automatic telegraph)
Routing MIT PhD thesis 1962 MIT
UCLA Prof 1963 to today
First ARPANET connection — his student programmer Charley Kline
The first message was l-o crash
First ARPANET connection between UCLA and ISI at Stanford
PhD in CS UCLA 1974
Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California from 1977
First Arpanet Connection log
RFC’s editor from 1969 to 1998
Wrote or co-wrote more than 200 RFC’s
IANA founder and head for 30 years — allocated all internet numeric addresses
Administered .us domain
Took over the internet in 1998, well 2/3 of it
Only person who has an obituary as an RFC (written by Vint Cerf): RFC 2468: I remember IANA
Robustness Principle (“Postel’s Law”): Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others (often reworded as “Be conservative in what you send, be liberal in what you accept”).
First inter-network TCP/IP connection
MIT PhD 1973
We reject Kings Presidents and Voting
Vice Chair of FCC Open Internet Advisory Committee
“In 1968, he received his Master’s and Engineer’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked on the I/O architecture of Multics under Jerry Saltzer. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1973. From 1981 to 1989, he acted as chief protocol architect in the development of the Internet, and chaired the Internet Activities Board, which later became the Internet Architecture Board. He has also served as chairman of the Computer Sciences and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council. He is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.”
“We reject: kings, presidents and voting.
We believe in: rough consensus and running code.”
[The origin of the above is notes from my lecture at Tufts University for the Tufts System Administrator's Affinity Group, 2013-03-28]
Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy
The idea of establishing a secret “drone court” modeled on the FISA court is an exceptionally bad one. Here in brief are some of my objections:
The court and its proceedings would be secret. It would be even worse than the infamous English Star Chamber. Even in the Star Chamber you had to be accused of doing *something*. As I understand it, the standard being articulated by the US administration now is “imminent danger”. Hello, “Minority Report” scenario anyone?
These death warrants would constitute a “Bill of Attainder” which is very expressly and categorically prohibited in the US Constitution Article I Section 9.
It is a fundamental and blatant violation of customary international law, in particular the 1923 Hague Convention. No you cannot bomb civilians. No you cannot bomb mosques and hospitals. No you cannot bomb people away from the battlefield.
Granted these prohibitions were blatantly ignored in the latter phases of WWII by all major participants. Nonetheless the principals in the German V-2 rocket program were tried for war crimes in the Dora trial of 1947. But they were acquitted of all charges and found refuge in the US, where their work became the basis of the US space and missile programs.
It is murder. It is lying. It is covert and unaccountable. It is a grim violation of international law and simple human decency. It is clearly unconstitutional.
Come on Congress and President Obama. Think about this. How hard can it be to see what is right?
Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy
I ran into Santa on the 87 bus coming home from the dentist today.
At least he was dressed more or less as Santa with a red suit and red floppy hat and answered to Santa when I addressed him as such.
“Hello there Santa, you’re kind of early this year aren’t you?
Well you know I have to get down from the North Pole and all.
What about the reindeer.
They don’t fly except on Christmas. I gunna have to bring Rudolph again this year.
Doesn’t Rudolph have to you know, light the way?
Yeah that’s what he does at night.
And in daytime?
You don’t want to know. Are you just coming home from work?
I was at the dentist.
I hope they gave you something for the pain.
It was just a checkup the pain comes later.
You know I have an elf with a sore tooth. It’s so bad he can’t work or nothin’.
I hope they gave him something for the pain.
They gave him Percocet.
That must be a happy elf!
(black lady with a ton of shopping bags): Ha ha ha. Yep that’s one happy elf. Ha ha ha.
Yes he ain’t feelin’ no pain now. But he still won’t work.
Are we going to be getting messed up toys with an apology saying this elf had a sore tooth and then he was too stoned to work?
No I got enough elfs. Everything is under control. Don’t you worry about nothin’!”
(/me gets off at Teele Square)
You have to have a sense of fantasy! :) :) :)
Copyright © 2012 Henry Edward Hardy